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Author Topic: Pima County Zoning Enforcement hassel  (Read 12524 times)
Joseph Clemens
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« on: April 07, 2006, 01:05:41 AM »

I am just a hobby beekeeper. I have two small residential apiaries of a few more than a dozen hives, total. Half of them are at the property I share ownership of, with my mother and brother in Marana, AZ. The property is zoned [SH], it is slightly larger than one acre, and I have kept bees there for the past 10 years and presently have just 6 colonies on the property. See section "E" in 18.07.030:

http://www.co.pima.az.us/cob/code/c18a5.html#576

About one and a half months ago someone from the county health department paid a visit in response to a complaint, allegedly from one of our neighbors. I was not present, but spoke with him on the phone while he and my mother stood ten feet from the hives for about 15 minutes. He mentioned that no one reported having been stung or attacked, and the bees bothered neither he nor my mother during his visit. He assured me that my bees were perfectly acceptable as far as he could see. He only asked for assurances that I would take appropriate action if the bees ever became overly agressive. Of course I would, my mother takes her walks past the hives each morning. About a month later a group of two persons from the county health department stopped by, in response to another complaint by the same person. They also gave me their assurances that my bees seemed just fine. They explained that it was simply an essential part of their process to respond personally to every complaint.

- - - - - -

Then I got a call from Pima County Zoning Enforcement. They are requiring me to obtain a beekeeping permit in order to keep my bees. They referred me to the department concerned with issuing permits. That department thought I had failed to understand the instructions I was given by zoning enforcement. The representative I spoke with explained how he had worked there for more than 25 years without ever having anyone need to obtain such a permit, and after conferring with his supervisor assured me that no permit was required to keep bees on property zoned [SH] in Pima County. Back I went to zoning enforcement --- eventually the supervisor from zoning enforcement spoke with the supervisor of the permit issuing department and now I am expected to obtain a $25 permit (I may be the first beekeeper in the history of Pima County that needs a permit to keep bees on my own rural property). They made a notation in the permit record for the property, "Beekeeping without a permit". The idea is that I will obtain the permit, zoning enforcement will inspect to see that the code requirements are met for keeping bees in my zone and then they will clear me of, "Beekeeping without a permit". I thought I should check with other beekeepers who may have more experience with this kind of thing, as I have none. There is no actual "Beekeeping permit". This is the zoning code they are using to require me to obtain the requested permit, it is an excerpt from section 18.01.030:

"E. Zoning Permits.
1. A zoning use permit shall be required for the erection, construction, reconstruction or alteration of any structure, or the change in use of any property or structure, whether or not such activity requires a building permit.
2. A zoning construction permit is required for the above activities when such activity does not require a building permit, except that an accessory building or accessory structure of two hundred square feet or less in area does not require a zoning construction permit when the cost of the accessory building or accessory structure is $1,000 or less. (Ord. 2004-59 § 1, 2004; Ord. 1994-135 § 1, 1994; Ord. 1985-188 § 1 (part), 1985; Ord. 1985-82 (part), 1985)"

When I read the part of the code that specifically addresses beekeeping I see that their is no specification for a permit requirement and in paragraph E.5. of 18.07.030. that the zoning inspector is required to determine that I am not following the zoning standards for beekeeping and if it is determined that I am not, they will then contact the health department and together decide the fate of my bees. It sounds like they want me to pay them before they do their job according to the zoning code. Help!
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alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Finsky
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2006, 01:34:16 AM »

Suppose you have beekeeping inspectors there which can help?
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2006, 02:11:26 AM »

I guess it could help in a situation like this, but we don't have any formal beekeeping inspection service here in Arizona.
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Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Jack Parr
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2006, 05:56:29 AM »

Quote from: Joseph Clemens
I guess it could help in a situation like this, but we don't have any formal beekeeping inspection service here in Arizona.


IMO you would have to determine weather beekeeping is in fact allowed where you live, or, not allowed for certain.  If there are no prohibitions against beekeeping per se and you have been involved in your activity for 20 ? years then I would not obtain any permits and LET them, whoever they are, force the issue.

Hopefully you would be forced to go to court and let the JUDGE decide.
However you should be certain of your position according to what is, or, not allowed where you live, specifically beekeeping.

I would further research nuisance laws, ordinances, rules, regulations etc to see if they could gin up some excuse to make you move your bees and even if THEY could destroy them.

Unfortunately there is the issue of the AHB's in your area that will be held against you if the snitch is persistant. Now the die is caste and the authorities MUST take some action.

Maybe your best bet is to consult a lawyer evil  and get a REAL legal opinion.

Really 25 bucks is not a killer if that's all it would take to make them leave you alone, but I know, I know it's galling.

Did you consult your ELECTED representative?

About all I can think of except tell everyone " GO TO HELL ".  wink
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2006, 07:30:14 AM »

Jack Parr,

It is more than $25. If a person has the right to do something why give up that right and get someones permission??? OH Yeah, happens all the time in the land of the free..... I'm with Jack on this, don't let them bully you. Go back to the place that said you don't need a permit, let them put it in writting, then the others (THEY) would have to come up with something specific I would think. And perhaps it will come down to letting a judge decide. Don't give up you freedoms lightly.
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2006, 08:36:16 AM »

even if its only a $25 permit, It would still tick me off because they seem to just be doing this to you alone,  I would fight it also, then I would look for a sneaky neighbor so I knew to to keep a eye on, but in the end it's only 25 bucks so don't let the lawyer get his hands in your pocket also. I would go to the department that wants you to to pay for this permit and talk to the top dog, and get him to explain whats going on, he might not be able to and fix it for you, Good Luck
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2006, 08:36:49 AM »

Jack Parr,

This is what the zoning code says concerning beekeeping in my zone:

"E. Beekeeping is permitted in all zones subject to the requirements of this section:
1. Density. Except in the Institutional Reserve (IR), Rural Homestead (RH) and industrial zones (CPI, CI-1, CI-2, CI-3) wherein one colony is allowed per 2,500 square feet, the following maximum number of colonies per lot area apply:
a. One-quarter acre or less: 2 colonies
b. More than 1/4 acre to less than 1/2 acre: 4 colonies
c. One-half acre to less than 36,000 square feet: 6 colonies
d. 36,000 square feet to one acre: 8 colonies
e. Greater than one acre: 8 colonies plus one colony per additional 2,500 square feet of lot area above one acre.
2. Bee hives shall be kept a minimum of thirty feet from any exterior lot boundary line.
3. Except for lots with an area greater than one acre, a barrier shall be erected that will prevent bees from flying through it. Such barrier shall:
a. Be at least six feet in height and shall consist of a dense plant or hedge or any opaque constructed material;
b. Extend at least eighteen feet beyond the hive(s) in both directions.
4. Fresh, clean watering facilities for bees shall be provided on said premises.
5. Upon determination by a zoning inspector that a property owner is not in compliance with the zoning standards for beekeeping, the Pima County health department shall be notified. If the same property owner is determined to be keeping a colony or colonies deemed a nuisance or hazard by the health department, the course of action shall be determined by the health inspector in cooperation with the zoning inspector.
6. Exceptions:
a. An exception to the provisions of this subsection shall be permitted for a period not to exceed sixty days for bees actively participating in commercial agricultural activities.
b. Nothing in this subsection shall be deemed or construed to prohibit the keeping of bees located or kept within a government facility, a school, or a university facility for the purpose of study or observation."

So, you see, it is specifically permitted in my zone with the above guidelines. I've always met (actually exceeded) these guidelines.
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<img src="[url]http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/miniWeather06_both/language/www/US/AZ/Marana.gif
" border=0
alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
thomashton
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2006, 11:56:04 AM »

Well, like Jack Parr said then, tell them all to "Go to Hell." Cheesy
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2006, 12:28:51 PM »

imho....obtain something in writing from the rep who said he has never issued a permit or was required to.

if any law enforcement types come by be sure you have witnesses to what transpires. do not hire a lawyer because they will rip you off. do contact your local AND state representative and tell them your story.
do not pay the $25 unless someone can specifically show you why you owe it.

this kind of crap gets me po'd.
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2006, 12:43:54 PM »

She's the one that decided I needed this "permit". I just had a long conversation with many of the county, "players". They were not entirely pleasant, and it has been suggested, by others, that even if I pay the money the hassel might not end. But, I am going down this morning and give them the money. Maybe that will be the end of it. Ha ha.

Quote from: TwT
even if its only a $25 permit, It would still tick me off because they seem to just be doing this to you alone,  I would fight it also, then I would look for a sneaky neighbor so I knew to to keep a eye on, but in the end it's only 25 bucks so don't let the lawyer get his hands in your pocket also. I would go to the department that wants you to to pay for this permit and talk to the top dog, and get him to explain whats going on, he might not be able to and fix it for you, Good Luck
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<img src="[url]http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/miniWeather06_both/language/www/US/AZ/Marana.gif
" border=0
alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
randydrivesabus
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2006, 12:59:46 PM »

good luck with that Joe. do you know any other beeks near you?
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2006, 01:05:53 PM »

Dee Lusby, but she moved out of the county, partly due to a similar hassel.

Jim Hawk, who runs the local bee supply store, he doesn't keep any bees presently.

Of course, I could move them a few other places, but it is kinda convenient to have them at home.
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<img src="[url]http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/miniWeather06_both/language/www/US/AZ/Marana.gif
" border=0
alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Joseph Clemens
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Location: Tucson, Arizona U S A


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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2006, 04:03:13 PM »

I have been encouraged by my fellow beekeepers not to give in to the unreasonable demand that I obtain a "permit", so I am waiting until I look into the matter farther.
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<img src="[url]http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/miniWeather06_both/language/www/US/AZ/Marana.gif
" border=0
alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Jerrymac
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2006, 06:03:16 PM »

Never give up. Never surrender.
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2006, 07:40:52 PM »

Quote
5. Upon determination by a zoning inspector that a property owner is not in compliance with the zoning standards for beekeeping, the Pima County health department shall be notified. If the same property owner is determined to be keeping a colony or colonies deemed a nuisance or hazard by the health department, the course of action shall be determined by the health inspector in cooperation with the zoning inspector.


I'm hoping for an outcome in your favor Joseph, but the wording above
shows they have all the marbles in this game. Please do not hesitate
to at least consult an attorney before letting the county government
railroad you out of your beekeeping hobby.

Is there any way you could qualify for the educational exemption?
You could invite the local schools out for field observation and an
informal beekeeping school, or, I'd be willing to send you small
amounts of money for researching small cell effects on Varroa Mite populations wink
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2006, 08:46:51 PM »

Personally I'd play the AHB card.  Keeping EHB helps keep out the AHB.  Removing the EHB leaves a vacuum that will surely be filled by AHB.

Michael
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2006, 09:57:32 PM »

I should have an edge with the Health Department, they have already sent out their own investigators recently, on two occassions, for complaints they had received and their verbal reports to me were glowing. All I need is to obtain copies of their reports and that should help my case greatly.
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<img src="[url]http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/miniWeather06_both/language/www/US/AZ/Marana.gif
" border=0
alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Jack Parr
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Location: Lockport, LA


« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2006, 08:42:17 AM »

Well I see you are not ROLLING over without some fightin'.

As far as " tell em to go to hell " is concerned there is a potential backlash to telling A PUBLIC OFFICIALL to stuff it. IT, or they, the officials, usually take themselves VERY seriously and THEY fell compelled to take some sort of action when there are persistent complaints about something. IT IS THEIR JOB smiley Usually if they are elected there is some leeway but for the hired officials there is a mandate to DO SOMETHING and I suppose you are dealing with the HIRED HELP so...

The problem as I see it is the AHB issue.  If the " snitch " enlist like minded individual to his/her cause you could face persistant aggrevation from said officials.  I mean they just WILL NOT GO AWAY. If the issue of PUBLIC SAFETY is brought forth, you may be in dire straits, even if you are correct. I dunno.

In any event, good luck and keep us posted.
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Rich V
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« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2006, 11:38:15 AM »

Have you found out who signed the complaint agaisnt you? Here in Illinois we have the right to know who the person is who file the complaint. I have in one case nipped it in the bud just by finding out who it was. Neighbors get friendly face to face.
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2006, 05:48:36 PM »

We have a plan:

1) Send a formal, written request by certified mail to zoning enforcement requesting they put their demands and reasonings in writing.

2) Send a formal, written request by certified mail requesting the health department provide copies of their investigation reports.

3) In a few days temporarily remove the six colonies to another location during the night. Replace them with empty hives, not even frames. Then if there is another complaint before they are returned I can show the investigators that there are no bees presently on the property.

On an aside: one neighbor suspected of originating a complaint is a friend of my mother (mother actually lives on the property). We plan to have mother ask her for a written statement acknowledging that she knows about the bees and does not have a problem with them.   cheesy
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<img src="[url]http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/miniWeather06_both/language/www/US/AZ/Marana.gif
" border=0
alt="Click for Marana, Arizona Forecast" height=50 width=150>[/url]
Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
10+ years in Tucson, Arizona
12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
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